Quick Thoughts: Away We Go, Elegy, 8 1/2

Away We Go (Sam Mendes, 2009)

With John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal and many more.

This was my second viewing on this movie and I liked it quite a bit more this time around.  While this movie doesn’t do a whole lot to separate itself from traditional indie dramedy fare, it is still a pretty enjoyable ride.  Krasinski and Rudolph are an unmarried couple expecting their first child.  They basically serve as tour guides for a cinematic journey all over North America in search of the perfect place to raise their child.  The tour features stops at beautiful cities where we meet all sorts of eccentric characters.  This is somewhat of a departure for Mendes (best known for American Beauty), whose work is typically much more rigid and serious.  Rudolph serves as the “soul” of the picture, but I think Krasinski is the real star of the show.  He is hilarious, as he is in anything he does, and I can’t wait for him to branch out and show his chops in more dramatic roles going forward.  If he proves that he can show some range as a performer, I think he has the potential to become a huge movie star.

Rating:  8/10

Elegy (Isabel Coixet, 2008)

With Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Peter Sarsgaard, Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson.

I have been wanting to watch this movie for a while, based solely on the acting talent they managed to assemble.  The film turned out to be nothing like what I expected.  I was expecting to see an erotic thriller about a relationship between an obsessive professor (Kingsley) and a beautiful student (Cruz), but what I got was a sad character study about a cowardly and weak old man.  The movie really focuses on Kingsley’s character and his relationships with 4 people:  his son (Sarsgaard), his best friend (Hopper), his casual lover (Clarkson) and his new girlfriend (Cruz).  The plot meanders and some of the relationships seem underdeveloped, but the movie is still worth seeing for the performances and the film’s heartbreaking final scene.  All of the stars do a fantastic job with their respective characters.  The most interesting of which is the one played by Cruz, and she once again proves why she is one of the most talented and beautiful performers in the business.

Rating:  7/10

8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)

With Marcello Mastroianni and many more.

I watched this movie a few months ago and was underwhelmed by it.  As it turns out, I just didn’t “get” it the first time around because I absolutely loved it after watching it again today.  For those unaware, the movie about an Italian director who is forced to deal with pressures from several different females, as well as his producers while attempting to make his next movie.  This is not a movie that can be watched casually, as it requires the viewer to be fully immersed in it.  That is the only way to keep track of the bevy of attractive women in the director’s life, along with trying to separate reality from what is going on inside the director’s mind.  Fellini’s masterpiece combines stunning black and white imagery with some profound commentary on love, happiness and what is really important in life.  It impacted me on a deeper level this time as I caught on to some things I didn’t really notice during my first viewing.

Rating:  10/10

2 Responses to “Quick Thoughts: Away We Go, Elegy, 8 1/2”
  1. You need to get the Criterion of 8 1/2. Of all titles that Criterion has on DVD, 8 1/2 may be the most deserving.

  2. I’ve already explained to you my misfortune when it came to purchasing the DVD. Don’t further frustrate me by making me revisit that fateful day.

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